Methods: This dissertation analyzes data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health). This is a longitudinal study of a nationally representative sample of teenagers in grades 7-12 (1994-1995) followed to ages 24-32 (2008-2009). The analytical sample consists of males and females who had a child before age 20 (N=1,135; 75.9% females). Data is analyzed longitudinally and includes covariates from Waves I and III, independent variables from Wave III (relationship status, parental emotional and financial support), and outcomes from wave IV (educational attainment, income and work participation). Findings are from preliminary analysis based on bivariate analyses. Future analysis will include multivariate regression and multiple imputation to account for missing data.
Results: By adulthood a greater proportion of teen mothers completed some college (40%, compared to 29% males), had lower individual income (M=$23,402, compared to M=$36,789 males), and lower work participation (60%, compared to 69% males). Among teen mothers, marriage/cohabitation was negatively associated with less education, lower income, and lower likelihood of employment. However, for teen fathers marriage/cohabitation was only negatively associated with educational attainment. Residing with one’s child was positively associated with teen fathers’ educational attainment, but had no statistically significant association with teen mothers’ outcomes. Parental financial support had a positive association with work participation among females, and no statistically significant association for males. Emotional support was not related for females or males.
Conclusions: This study will offer evidence of the importance of marriage/cohabitation, as well as family emotional and financial support provided in the transition to adulthood for female and male teen parents’ socioeconomic attainment in adulthood. Findings will highlight important gender differences in predictors of socioeconomic attainment. Results can inform interventions to promote successful adulthood trajectories among teen parents by identifying gender-specific factors that may buffer negative effects associated with early childbearing. Positive socioeconomic attainment is a critical factor in breaking the cycle of disadvantage that often accompanies teen childbearing.